Theme Park Comes to Florida

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The name Jim Fowler will soon become synonymous with the Florida panhandle.

That's because a multi-million dollar theme park named after him will soon be built in a remote part of Holmes County Florida.

This unique kind of park promises to give that region a new facelift.

"I've had a passion for presenting wildlife in a different way than the normal zoos,” Jim Fowler said.

And Fowler is taking that passion to Holmes County and Washington County Florida where he's teaming up with the Blue Dolphin II group to build a thousand acre wildlife sanctuary to help people learn about wild animals.

“I've been involved in creating what we call ecological parks,” Fowler said. “These are places that you don't just walk down a trail and see a field mouse. You have things that are real exciting and adventurous to you so that you can open up your mind."

The park will be built just south of I-10 and east of highway 79 where Smith Lake is now located.

Construction of the park is the first phase of a three part project, and it will cost 35-million dollars.

The second phase will be to build a 20-million dollar amphitheater next to the park, and the third phase will be the construction of a theme park filled with rides and roller coasters at a cost of over 100-million dollars.

The total price tag will be about 200 million dollars.

But those in charge of the project said the cost will be worth the return.

"We're hoping to create jobs, communities, which will then create single family housing, affordable housing, in 6,000 acres of developed land," Barbara Farris said.

Fowler said "providing jobs for that community is going to be very important."

Officials estimate that the construction of the park alone, which is scheduled to begin in about 6 months, will bring in close to 1,800 jobs.

They say the park, the amphitheater, and the theme park along with all the development in the surrounding areas will yield close to 500 million dollars over the next ten years.

Tourists interested in visiting this new park when it is completed will not necessarily have to drive there.

They will be able to fly to a new airport in Bay County that is scheduled to open later this year.